December 10, 2005

Recycling the love

Tonight's Christmas party will be with friends we've known for years. We gather at someone's house, everyone bringing food. One of the traditions for this party is the recycled gift exchange. To participate in the gift exchange, you take something from your house that you don't want any more – that ice bucket you got for your wedding, that weird clock your aunt gave you, that ugly mug you've always hated – and wrap it up. At the party, we draw numbers from a hat, and open gifts in turn. When it's your turn, you get to choose a gift from the pile and open it, or steal a gift from someone else. Some of the gifts are actually nice, but most are simply funny, and always people start fighting over some ridiculous item. Eventually, after a great deal of joking around, everyone ends up with something to bring home, although the couple who host the party always claim that they see people shoving unwanted gifts under the couch. I am looking around the house right now to see what we can bring this year.

14 comments:

Songbird said...

jo(e), my ex-husband and I have been exchanging a teeny little plum pudding for many years now. One year I give it to him, the next year he gives it back to me. It's traditional!

chichimama said...

My extended family does an exchange like that every year, and it is the highlight of the holiday season. We'll miss it this year, and I'm so upset.

Have a blast!

Tiruncula said...

What a fabulous idea for a party! I'll have to try instituting it as a tradition.

Yankee T said...

Among my Irish friends in New England that's called an "Irish swap". It's great fun and I actually got a beautiful silk scarf one year that someone's hated mother-in-law gave her. It beat the ceramic rat I dumped.

peripateticpolarbear said...

I hope you get something good out of the deal, but if not, you have something to bring next year.

susan said...

What a neat holiday tradition. We have something like that going for children's birthdays with the neighbors across the street (which I assumed was some sort of thrifty methodist tradition when they first did it [their daughter gave mine a little puzzle that the girls had enjoyed playing on playdates over at their house], but it turned out to be simply what their daughter had insisted was the right thing to do before coming to our house for birthday cupcakes. But it's a cool thing to recycle items.

Rev Dr Mom said...

Around this area, this is called a "Yankee Swap".

Laura said...

We always called it a white elephant gift. My work does it at our holiday party with ornaments. It can get pretty rowdy!

academic coach said...

I like to do the swap with books.

Kathryn said...

So would anyone have liked the 2' glow in the dark crucifix that my mother in law's parish priest gave us for a wedding present?? I do hope not, as I recycled it via a church fete years ago...but you never know...

RageyOne said...

Those kinds of party gifts are always fun. So, what did you take and what did you get?

Limon de Campo said...

That's a great idea for a gift exchange. Let us know what you snagged.

jo(e) said...

We've got rid of lots of useless stuff at this party over the years -- all those wedding presents we never used, like the tiny cheese board with the dome glass lid that is way too small for any party we might have. And bottles of wine and liquor that my husband gets as presents at work (no one in my household drinks) are always welcomed enthusiastically. One year we pulled an old mannequin from a dumpster and brought it. The college students who snagged her at the party *still* have her and bring her to the party now dressed in holiday apparel.

We came home last night with candles. I am suprised at how many people get candles as gifts and don't really use them. We go through tons of candles in this household ....

Rana said...

Me too -- and I love them.

There's also a variant called "Rob Thy Neighbor," which involves the use of dice instead of drawing numbers from a hat, but I don't remember quite how it works.

One year I won a singing rocker chicken clock. I still think it's the most excellent white elephant ever, even if it is profoundly annoying as well as cute. (Maybe because it is both cute and profoundly annoying.)